The Booth Babe Chronicles: Highlights Of The 2010 Auto Show Season

The Booth Babe
by The Booth Babe
the booth babe chronicles highlights of the 2010 auto show season

You know those booth babes at the auto show you may or may not sexually harass? That’s me. Let’s get a few things out of the way: No, I don’t come with the car. No, I won’t date you. Or marry you. Or let you take a picture of my butt. Or let you sit in this concept car even if you promise me the cover of 944.

What I will do, however, is what this lovely blog so graciously requested of me, which is to provide a wrap-up of the 2010 auto show season. While there are still a few more small regional shows left, the New York show marks the unofficial end of the season with the last big reveals and press days. (It also pretty much marks the end of my sanity, so thank god there isn’t another major show until November.)

Rather than talk about the cars – because I do that all day, and you and I both know all about them, and yes I really am trained by the engineers and have confidential info, yes really – let’s talk about the more mysterious part of auto shows: the marketing decisions. There’s a clearly defined reason behind each and every little thing you see at the auto show, from the shoes we wear to the color of the display, and months of research and millions of dollars go into each decision with one end goal: keeping you in that display for as long as possible. The longer you stay, the stronger the brand impression becomes in your mind. The stronger the brand impression, the more likely you are to buy a vehicle from them.

The 2010 auto show season came close to not happening. Several manufacturers barely participated at all, some didn’t show up until the end of the season when they started getting pushback from dealers and potential customers, and nearly all spent last spring and summer doing a cost/benefit analysis to see how much they would gain or lose by not having a presence in what is arguably the single most valuable marketing tool in their arsenal.

So while this is a lighthearted knocking of some odd choices made by the marketing departments of these manufacturers, it should be stated that I’m glad they showed up at all because doing so kept a lot of people employed.

That being said… What the hell, Kia? I understand that this “one-eyed monster” is a character from some kids’ show, but to your child-free customers this key marketing character looks like an infected phallus with a nasty case of genital warts. If that’s what you get with a new Kia Sorrento, I’ll pass.

The lovely ladies of Fiat/Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep. They looked fabulous. They garnered a lot of attention on press days. But when the spinners are only there to be pretty and don’t know anything about the product, it defeats the purpose and makes the public lose confidence in the rest of us. And PS – those girls are wearing $900 shoes and $1500 Herve Leger bandage dresses. Remember that time when Chrysler accepted more than $7 billion in bailout funds and never repaid it? (Who am I kidding – I’m just suffering from extreme shoe envy.)

The Jeep stoner. I’m pretty sure this guy started the fire at Cobo Hall when he was smoking a doob.

The Toyota entertainment team. Toyota had all kinds of tricks up their sleeves to keep you in their booth: multiple singing groups, flash mobs, a game show, a Stomp take-off, film your own commercial, and more. A lot of it was mocked in the press, but the public ate it up. Say what you want, but it captured people’s attention and kept them in the display during a time when the company was in desperate need of consumer confidence.

The Chevy Volt dancers. Thankfully this only lasted for one or two shows. It was trashed so badly in the press and ridiculed by show guests so hard that Chevy pulled it pretty fast. In fact, the person in charge of this fiasco was moved to another department shortly thereafter.

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3 of 46 comments
  • Shaker Shaker on Apr 19, 2010

    If manufacturers are going so subject our sensitive peepers to something like the Juke, I think the antidote should be as beautiful as possible. And if she has product knowledge, that's icing on the cake. Cool article; looking forward to next auto show season.

  • Nick Nick on Apr 19, 2010

    I don't know how many times I told Gumby to wear a condom.

    • INeon INeon on Apr 19, 2010

      Maybe he's an adherent of the Old Church.

  • Inside Looking Out This is actually the answer to the question I asked not that long ago.
  • Inside Looking Out Regarding "narrow windows" - the trend is that windows will eventually be replaced by big OLED screens displaying some exotic place or may even other planet.
  • Robert I have had 4th gen 1996 model for many years and enjoy driving as much now as when I first purchased it - has 190 hp variant with just the right amount of power for most all driving situations!
  • ToolGuy Meanwhile in Germany...
  • Donald More stuff to break god I love having a nanny in my truck... find a good tuner and you can remove most of the stupid stuff they add like this and auto park when the doors open stupid stuff like that